When to Reach for Retinol (And When to Skip it)

When to Reach for Retinol (And When to Skip it)
by Truly Beauty

Few skincare ingredients are as popular or as effective as retinol. You've probably heard it's something of a gold standard when it comes to anti-aging. But that's not all it does. In addition to addressing signs of aging, retinol can help treat discoloration, dullness, and even serve as an acne treatment. It's pretty much a cure-all active ingredient.

While you probably know all the plus points of retinol, you may not know that this vitamin A derivative isn't actually suitable for everybody. 

To get educated, we did some digging to understand the full scope of retinol's effects and potential side effects. If you want to know whether you're a good candidate for retinoids, read on. 



Retinol is a form of vitamin A used for anti-aging. You will find this ingredient in many skincare products ranging from moisturizers to face masks, serums to night creams. Retinol is essentially an antioxidant, not an exfoliant. You can pair it with other anti-aging ingredients like vitamin C and ceramides to improve overall skin wellness.

"Using a well-formulated and stable product with retinol will visibly reduce the appearance of sun damage, brown spots, lines, wrinkles, and large pores. It can stimulate the metabolism of skin cells and encourage collagen production," explains esthetician Renée Rouleau. "Its magic is in its ability to resurface the skin’s texture for a smoother, more even-toned look."

The strongest retinol creams, like Tretinoin, isn't available over the counter. However, there are numerous retinol products available that do not require a prescription. 



Retinol is best for aging skin, oily skin, and acne-prone skin.

If you are looking to fade your fine lines and wrinkles, rely on retinol's superpowers to help you do it. Because retinol enhances skin cell turnover and boosts collagen production, you’ll notice a nice youthful glow with regular use. This also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

If breakouts or oiliness are your issue, you can benefit just as much from topical retinol usage. Retinol decreases the function of overactive oil glands, helping to unclog pores and minimize shine. This leads to clearer skin, smaller looking pores, and fewer blemishes. Retinol also boosts the potency of active ingredients in other acne-fighting products like cleansers and toners.

Alongside this, retinol can improve skin texture, even out skin tone, and reverse the effects of sun damage. So if you're looking to treat roughness, dullness, or pigmentation issues like dark spots, retinol can help.



At Truly, we believe in the powers of retinol. That's why many of our products are formulated with this active ingredient. It's that good. If you think your skin can tolerate it, we highly recommend making it part of your daily skincare regimen. Here are our top picks for pure retinol skincare products.


Vegan Collagen Bundle

This 4-step anti-aging skincare routine features a face cleanser, serum, face mask, and body cream all formulated with retinol, vegan collagen, and vitamin C. Together, these ingredients fight against free radicals, pump up collagen production, and speed cell turnover for smoother, brighter, line-free skin. Follow up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30) to protect the skin barrier from UV damage and pollution.


Super Star Patches

Banish those blemishes with these star-shaped acne patches flecked with retinol, hydrocolloid, and BHA. They'll help remove your blemishes without leaving behind scars. Dermatologists highly recommend acne patches as a topical spot treatment. 


Anti-Cellulite Serum

This skin refining body serum blends bitter orange, vegan collagen, and retinol to mobilize stored fats, increase collagen, and thicken the dermis. The result? Less dimples on your thighs, stomach and hips. Or to put it another way: smoother, silkier, firmer skin. 

The vitamin C in bitter orange is a powerful antioxidant which can thicken the dermis, reduce fine lines, and illumify skin’s appearance. Retinol neutralizes the effect of free radicals to enhance natural collagen production and skin elasticity, while gently exfoliating the skin’s surface for improved tone and texture. 



Those with sensitive skin aren't the best candidates for retinol. That's because this active ingredient can cause dryness, flaking, and irritation. It can also be damaging to the skin if you have an underlying skin condition like eczema, dermatitis, or rosacea, as it can enhance inflammation. Those with dry skin also may not respond in the best way to retinol serums and lotions, as it may increase overall dryness

That doesn't mean people with sensitive skin, dry skin, or chronic skin conditions can't use retinoids at all. Some can. However, it's crucial that you gradually introduce such formulations into your skincare routine. For instance, using it one time weekly and eventually increasing it to three times weekly. 

Another thing you need to be careful of: retinol can make your skin more sensitive to other skincare products and sunlight. Avoid using alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, and vitamin C at the same as your retinol to prevent it from drying out your skin.



Retinol, retin-A, retinoic acid, and retinyl palmitate can be harmful if you are pregnant or nursing. Women who are pregnant, planning, or breastfeeding are advised against using retinol or any form of it.  

If you are searching for a skincare product to smooth, soothe, and lock in lasting moisture on dry, cracked, or inflamed nipples, make Truly's Acai Your Nippies your first choice. Unlike the original Acai Your Boobies Butter, this nipple butter contains no retinol, making it perfectly safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. 

It's formulated with a soothing, hydrating blend of shea butter, acai, dragon fruit, and mango butter to improve elasticity, alleviate stretch marks, and soothe chapped, irritated nipples. It's one of the best products out there for moms-to-be. 


Retinol can be transformative for some, while irritating for others. Once you know whether or not you're the right candidate for this active ingredient, you can start reaping its benefits or enjoying the benefits of another, more suitable product. 



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